October 7, 2015

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iOS vs Android Security: Which One Will Keep You More Secure?

In the world of smartphone operating systems, the general population seems to be divided between the two major options — Apple’s iOS operating system and Google’s Android operating system. We all have our personal preferences when it comes to design, features, and usability, but at the core, which operating system is the most secure — iOS or Android? Is your favorite smartphone actually making you vulnerable to identity theft? Take a look at the pros and cons of your preferred operating systems:

iOS Security: Pros and Cons

On the pro side, Apple has a good reputation for staying on top of security. The company strictly reviews all of the apps available through the App Store to avoid allowing malware through. They also work hard to ensure devices have the most recent version of the iOS installed (which usually includes security updates) and encourage mass upgrades.

Because of their reputation and overall popularity, breaching Apple’s iOS would be an impressive feat for any hacker.

Enter the cons…last year, security researchers found a vulnerability that had the potential to allow fake versions of apps to get into iOS devices. More recently, the company discovered 39 malware-infected apps in the App Store; this was considered to be Apple’s first major cyber attack. Additionally, in September, it was discovered that more than 225,000 iPhone users had their Apple account information compromised by malware. This attack only targeted individuals with “jailbroken” iPhones. Jailbreaking allows people to customize their phones in many ways, but it also makes them vulnerable to hackers and voids Apple’s warranty.

Android Security: Pros and Cons

Built on an “open” philosophy, Android makes it easy for users to configure the OS to their personal preferences. Many Android users say they love the flexibility and the option to customize their devices.

Unfortunately, keeping things “open” is also what keeps Android more vulnerable. Android-based phones are more widely used across the world, and studies have shown that a much larger percentage of mobile malware targets Android over iOS.

When it comes to OS updates, Android is notorious for being inconsistent. It is not uncommon to find an Android owner running an old version of the OS on their device, making them more vulnerable to hackers. This summer, a vulnerability — nicknamed Stagefright — was found in the open source code of the Android OS. The bug was considered a threat to 95% of Android devices — nearly 1 billion phones and tablets. This prompted Google and companies like Samsung and LG to rethink how they provide software updates.

So, Which Mobile Operating System’s Security is the Best?

Although both Android and iOS have their flaws, Apple’s iOS has still proved to be a safer bet in terms of security. Apple runs a tight ship which can feel constricting to users, but ultimately, it’s to keep their customers as safe as possible. Yes, hackers have started to poke holes in the Apple OS — but they have only managed to target jailbroken iPhones and a miniscule portion of apps within the App Store.

Whether you are an Android fan or an Apple devotee, you still need to do everything you can to keep your information safe and secure. Be sure to install updates whenever they are available, think twice before you download anything, and don’t jailbreak your device. When it comes to mobile technology, a little vigilance goes a long way!

Image courtesy of Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns.

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